Friday, March 11, 2005

Dutch are losing faith in European Union

Bad news for the European Union:

The Netherlands, one of the six founding members of the European Union and currently holder of the EU presidency, has always taken pride in being a good European, scoring higher than any other country, apart from Luxembourg, in terms of public support for the EU. It is proud to have hosted the Treaty of Maastricht, which created the last great European project, the single currency. But now, in an extraordinary about-turn, the Netherlands may scupper the next great EU project, the European constitution.

The Government has announced that a referendum on the constitution will take place on June 1. It will be the first time that Dutch citizens are asked what they think of the EU.

While international attention has been focused on the French referendum, just three days earlier on May 29, the Dutch are far more likely to slam on the brakes of the constitutional juggernaut. Polls in France still show a majority in favour of the constitution, but the Government in The Hague has been shocked to find that a majority of its citizens are opposed, and by no small margin.

A recent poll was telling. It showed that 42 per cent of Dutch would choose to vote “no”, against 28 per cent who plan to vote “yes”. The Netherlands is the only founding member of the EU in which opinion polls suggest that the constitution will be rejected.

Part of the change in attitude has to do with Turkey and immigration:

There is widespread opposition to the European Commission’s decision to let Turkey join the EU, which would give 70 million Muslims the right to live and work in Western Europe. These fears are being given voice by the maverick politician Geert Wilders, whose opposition to radical Islam, Turkey and the constitution has propelled him ahead of the Government in the polls.

In a recent speech in Rotterdam, Mr Wilders said: “The political elite wants to admit Turkey to the Union, an Islamic land of millions, that will have an enormous influence on the federal superstate. Because of the new European constitution, Turkey will have more influence on Dutch legislation than the Netherlands itself. It can’t become crazier than this.”

It looks like the dream of an united Europe is about to come to an end.


At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"decision to let Turkey join the EU"

This is a rather inaccurate statement, as the EU only voted recently to open negotiations with Turkey over joining the EU -- not to let them join. Which is an absurd idea in any case, of course; I don't see how anyone with an ounce of integrity or common sense who has seen the on the ground reality of the Turkish immigrant presence in Europe could possibly be in favor of even more of it. But the ambivalence about this among those who voted for it is shown by yet more absurdity -- talk of making Turkey wait until 2025 etc.

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, per news reports two things about the recent "Si" vote in Spain for the EU Constitution should be noted: 1) hardly any of the voters had read it or knew much about it, and 2) Spain is still a major recipient of EU funds, which have made a noticable difference to Spain, e.g. via funding of infrastructure projects. So it is no wonder Spaniards are in favor of more of the same.

At 5:32 AM, Anonymous Jason Frank said...

I interpret the Spanish "Si" as "Si, send us another 50 billion euros in aid and not to eastern europe who is poorer and even less developed than we are. But please don't ask us to become secular and stop forcibly teaching religion in school or to allow abortion even in extreme situations." Just the money please like last time.


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